SOURCE: Sunday News
Robin Muchetu Senior Sunday Leisure Reporter
IT is often said women are the weaker sex but have you ever stopped to wonder what the “weaker” refers to. Yes, English will tell you that weaker is a comparative word whose use is usually followed by than, so what does the word compare women to, obviously to men.
In other words the statement can be paraphrased to read women are weaker than men and it is worrying that some men and women believe so much in the statement which when put against facts even in our old and strong patriarchal society may be disqualified with the contempt it deserves as a stereotype – thanks to the policy makers for the gospel of equal opportunities that is being preached.
The gospel of equal opportunities has removed women from roles of child bearing and looking after homes and thrust them as active participants politically, socially and economically. And today Zimbabwe stands tall as there are women who have proved to be more intellectually muscular than men.
Yes, even politically women are more active participants than men, on the support side though. Socially they are the mothers. They ensure they feed the family and always carry that difficult burden that most fathers do not seem to be worried about with some kind of reckless abandon.
They are therefore stronger socially than men whose influence in raising a family is less than that of women. Sadly, however, they have had the tag of wanting preferential treatment but did you know that approximately 60 percent of small businesses in the country are owned by women who employ over three million people generating a few billions of dollars and adding to the national fiscus.
They are therefore serious economic players whose effort should not be overlooked and the challenge that they are giving men is seriously threatening men’s hegemony in all spheres of life especially economically.
Women are untying themselves from the dependence bondage that they were restricted to by tradition, culture and history. And it’s time more and more women wake up and smell the coffee.
Facts as presented by the Minister of Small to Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) Sithembiso Nyoni during a launch of an electronic directory by the Professional Women and Women Executives and Business Women’s Forum (Proweb) in Bulawayo were a relief to me.
She said: “About 60 percent of small businesses that are in the country are owned by women and in these businesses three million people are employed by these powerful women which is very impressive,” said Cde Nyoni.
Cde Nyoni told businesswomen that the ministry of SMEs had so far created 5,7 million jobs in Zimbabwe alone although statistics say there is 85 percent unemployment rate which she said was very negative.
“My ministry has so far created 5,7 million jobs in the country but there is talk of 85 percent of Zimbabweans that are unemployed. We are working tirelessly with women to ensure that jobs are created and do away with this negativity,” she said.
Women who had gathered for the launch were encouraged to be counted in the basket of powerful women that were creating wealth for Zimbabwe.
Businesswoman Margaret Moyo, wife to the Senior Minister of State Simon Khaya Moyo said the challenge was that women in the city were failing to access funding particularly from banks in Bulawayo as they were not being given much preference.
“It is not that women in the city are not passionate about business opportunities but that they lack funding from banks especially in Bulawayo. We are not cry babies but we need women in decision making bodies in the financial sector who will aid in accessing funds,” said Moyo.
She said when funds were availed for women in business it should be done in a uniform manner which would ensure that all regions access the funds. Moyo further said the reason why some young adults left the country to places like South Africa and Botswana was that they felt there was nothing for them in Bulawayo.
The director of Proweb, Sithabile Mangwengwende, called on the women of Bulawayo to come on board and be part of Proweb and also to look at the bigger picture when it comes to business opportunities.
“Women of Bulawayo we want you on board, we should not limit ourselves to small ideas such as peanut butter making machines. Do we need to be content with small ideas? There is need to grow, that is how Proweb came about,” she said.
Mangwengwende said women should find strategies to come out of their problems where they were regarded as minors in society and demand their space. She said there were various gaps that needed to be filled in a bid to assist women to be creators of wealth. She said Minister Nyoni must push women to move from being small entrepreneurs to be owners of giant companies that would make a mark in the society.
Women need to belong to associations that will help them overcome some of their problems and grow. This is a way that will ensure that women are beginners businesses and not be supporters only,” she said.